Monday, August 17, 2015

Mashed Potato Workout

Has someone ever disappointed you?  Have you ever been hurt by the words or actions of another person?  Did you ever discover that someone you trusted was not completely honest with you?

Okay, so now that everyone reading this post can raise their hands and say that they've been there and had one (or more!) of these experiences, let me ask you another did you respond to it?  Has it ever driven you to food as a way to cope?

There's a great deal of information available on the topic of "emotional eating".  Examples may include using food to fill an emotional void, or taking comfort from food during stressful, painful, or challenging times.  While these scenarios are accurate representations, emotional eating can also be tied to eating when you are bored, social eating (joining in and eating simply because others around you are eating), pressured eating (friends, family, or co-workers urging you to eat something they have made, or to eat with them), or eating instead of facing strong emotions, among other things.

To tell you the truth, I have never really considered myself to be an emotional eater under most of these circumstances, and I can't recall ever purposely wanting a specific food in times of emotional crisis...until recently.

Last week, I had a situation where it came to light that someone I had trusted in the past had been dishonest with me several years ago about something significant.  It made me mad, but it also broke my heart to know I had been lied to.  It challenged my feelings of self-worth.  And all I wanted was mashed potatoes...

Mashed potatoes have always been my favorite food.  I like them just about every way they can be prepared.  Even in my baby book, in the section about my 2-year-old self, for favorite foods my mother penned "mashed potatoes!!!" rather enthusiastically.  As I have been losing weight, I knew I did not want to give them up completely, so I've trimmed them back on our family menus to only once or twice per month, and have taken out the butter and cream cheese and now use Greek yogurt in place of higher fat ingredients.  Different, but still very good!

As I stewed over my new-found disappointment, the madder I got, the more I wanted to get into my kitchen and make a huge pot of mashed potatoes, complete with cream cheese and butter!  I have never cooked or eaten out of emotion like this before, and at first, I really didn't even realize that was what was happening.  I walked into my bedroom to change clothes before cooking, however, and the sight of my weights sitting in the corner made me stop in my tracks.

Instead of cooking and eating, I changed into sweats and chose to workout.  Instead of burying my emotions in a bowl of potatoes, I worked through my feelings.  I allowed myself to experience the anger, the frustration, the hurt, and the betrayal...but I didn't stop there.  

By mid-way through my workout, in tears, I was reminding myself that I am valuable.  The person who wronged me was just that...wrong.  I refused to allow the words of others to have power over me.  I would not let another person's actions to drive me to undo the work I have done with losing weight by emotionally pushing me to eat foolishly because I was upset.  Every time I lifted a dumbbell, I let go of some of the hurt and I regained a little more of my freedom.

Exhausted, as I reached the cool down portion of my workout, I found myself forgiving the person who had wronged me and praying for them.  I honestly hope they experience God's love in their life.  In my heart, I released them from my anger, and in doing so,  I received the opportunity to move on.  And all without eating a single bite of mashed potatoes...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Making a Comeback

Don’t you just love a good comeback story?  You know, the kind of tale where a character has been really successful, but then life throws them an unexpected curveball and they go through some really hard places…or maybe they made some poor decisions that led them astray…but in the end they come back, stronger, wiser, and better than ever?  There’s so much emotion involved as the character moves through each season of their experience…The joy of the good times, followed by the agonies of the challenges, and finally, the relief and excitement when they make it through to the other side of their struggles.  I have laughed, cried, and cheered my way through many such books and movies.

Right now, however, I feel as though I’m living out my own comeback story…Having been overweight my entire life, I finally decided 4 years ago that it was time for a change.  I worked hard to change my eating habits and incorporate exercise into my life.  I’ll be honest with you, it’s not always easy to implement exercise and healthy eating when you’ve spent 39 years without giving much thought to your own personal fitness, but I did it, and I lost 169 pounds in about 18 months.  I was smaller than I had been since I was 13 years old.  I felt fantastic!  I had taken up running and biking.  I was no longer restricted or limited by my size in any way…then I got hit with my curveball, and it knocked me flat on my back.  During the following 2 years, I dealt with so many doctors and lived in so much pain, that as I stopped exercising and devoting time to good nutrition, I regained over half of the weight I had lost.  

By the time that I had recovered from my health issues, I went through a really depressed period of time where I thought I could never lose the weight again.  Oh, I wanted to.  Desperately.  But I had pretty much given up hope that I could actually do it though.  It all came to a head one Sunday afternoon in March as I started pulling all of my now way-too-small clothes out of the closet.  I was so mad at myself.  All that work for what?  To regain half of it?  To give up without reaching my goals? Or even worse, to keep on gaining and end up heavier than I was when I started???

I had to make a decision.  I could either spend the rest of my life miserable, hating myself because I wasn’t who I wanted to be, and feeling like a failure…or I could do something about it.

I have to say, making the choice to get back on track has set me free.  Free from the feeling of “I can’t”.  Free from feeling like I wasn’t worth something better.  And free from the overwhelming feeling of being out of control and unable to do what was right and make a change in my life.  

For the last three months now, I’ve been paying attention to proper nutrition, working out regularly, and staying accountable to a supervised program, and the weight is coming back off at a healthy rate, averaging about 2 pounds lost per week for the last 15 weeks, and I feel fantastic!

You see, no matter how far you have strayed from your goals, you can always make a comeback.  It doesn’t matter if circumstances beyond your control sidelined you for a while, or if you chose to stray from what you knew to be the right path.  Or like me, maybe you’ve experienced a blend of the two.  Today, however, you are not powerless.  You have the ability to choose to do what is best for your body.

Are you ready to make your comeback?  

Philippians 1:6 “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…”
(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional, a representative of any formal weight loss program, or a certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Up and Down Escalators

When I was a child, one of my mother’s regular shopping destinations was a local department store.  My favorite part of being there was when she needed something from one of the upper levels, and we got to go up the escalator.  Riding up those moving stairs was exciting to my eight-year-old self.  I loved grabbing the rail and jumping on as it took us higher and higher.  There was only one problem, though…I loved going up, but I was terrified of coming back down!

Going up was easy.  I got to start the journey from the bottom, on familiar ground.  Just walk in and step right on with no fear of falling.  Seeing the steps rolling upwards was not the least bit intimidating to me, it was fun!  As long as I looked straight ahead, I could ride along comfortably with no thought of how far up I was really going. 

Coming back down was not so easy though, and I got no enjoyment from it whatsoever.  Going down meant that I had to face the reality of just how high I had gone.  The thought of pitching myself forward onto the quickly descending platform would paralyze me in fear.  The big, open stairwell loomed in front of me, making me dizzy if I dared take a peek at it. 

I saw others going down with no problem, but I was scared that I would get killed if I tried on my own. Usually my mother could prod me along, holding my hand and half dragging me with her, my face buried in her side.  One time in particular, however, I can remember my mother (with my baby sister and her recent purchases in her arms) told me to grab onto the rail myself and follow her back down.  She boarded with ease, but I simply could not get myself to move.  I could visualize myself tripping and tumbling down, being hurt and embarrassed, and thought perhaps staying in the 2nd floor linens department for the rest of my life was my fate, because there was no way I could do this.  Now at the bottom, my mother began pleading with me to “quit being silly” and come down, but I would not budge.  Rather, I burst into tears, convinced I could not possibly do it.  Eventually, a kind sales clerk heard the commotion and helped me get down to my waiting family.

I find that there are many similarities to this journey of losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle and my experiences with the escalator.  When you are gaining weight and not exercising, the ride up is often easy and fun…After all, fast food is convenient and inexpensive.  Sweet, savory, and rich indulgences taste great and are often shared in social settings with friends and family.  You don’t have to set aside time in your day for fitness or meal planning, and you rarely stop to think about how far you’ve gone from where you started.  Before you know it, you’ve reached “new heights” that actually become places of despair…favorite clothing no longer fits, your energy level is way down, you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, and you just don’t feel good about yourself like you once did.

No matter how much you know you need to do what it takes to get back down to where you belong, it can be scary.  It’s hard to face the reality of where you’re at.  From the high point, the goal looks so very far away, impossible to reach.  You begin to think that this is the place where you will spend the rest of your days and there’s nothing you can do about it.  I know, because I’ve lived it in more ways than one…

Today, however, I’m so thankful that I’m no longer standing at the top, shaking with fear, and refusing to move because I’m afraid I might not make it back down.  I took a deep breath and made the steps necessary to head back down to a healthy weight, and guess what?  It feels great!  While the journey to reach my weight loss and fitness goals may take a little longer than that childhood ride down the escalator, I’m so happy to be moving in the right direction!

(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional, a representative of any formal weight loss program or a certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Finishing Well

Nearly two years have passed since I last used this blog to share about my life, and now the time has come for me to start writing again.  It’s not always easy, turning your thoughts and feelings into text, but it is something I feel compelled to do.  Steven Covey once said, “One word expresses the pathway to greatness: voice.  Those on this path find their voice and inspire others to find theirs.”   My hope is that God can somehow use my story to bring encouragement and inspiration to others…and so, through writing, I have found my voice once again.

For those of you who are here for the first time, I would recommend you take a few minutes to read through a couple of my previous posts, Why Polyester, Why Polyester Part 2, Daddy's Example, and I am a Runner, and they will help you understand some of my history.  To my friends who are stepping back into my journey, I am glad you have returned.  I hope to use this post to bring you all up to date on where I am today.

When last I wrote, I was two years into my weight loss journey, and through balanced nutrition and exercise, I had lost 169 pounds and was well on my way to reaching my weight loss goal.  Then, suddenly, everything changed. 

One afternoon in July 2013, I went to the park to go running, and less than 1/8 of a mile in, I was struck with a blinding headache.  Having never experienced any kind of migraine before, I didn’t know what was going on.  Over the next year, the headaches became more frequent and severe, to the point that they never let up, and no medicines or therapies provided any relief.  I hurt continually, and it interfered with every aspect of my life.  I was sent from doctor to doctor, seeing everyone from a neurologist, to an eye doctor, to the dentist, and several other specialists in between, in an effort to determine the cause of my issue.  Finally, in August 2014, it was found that I had a large growth in my frontal sinus cavity that was triggering all of the pain.  During surgery, the doctor performed seven different procedures to clear everything out and re-align my sinuses.  The surgery was more invasive then was planned, and the recovery time took much longer than expected, and I was not released from follow up care until the end of November 2014.  I still have some residual issues that linger, but am grateful that the headaches are a thing of the past.

In the middle of all of the headache and sinus problems, I broke my left foot, and I was restricted from any kind of extended walking for three months, and the doctor told me I was not to run or ride my bike for a minimum of six months, or I faced the risk of re-injury because of where the original break had been located.

This brings me to March 14, 2015…It was time to reclaim the ground I had lost and finish what I started!  I knew I needed accountability to get back on track and start losing weight again, so I signed up for Weight Watchers, took a deep breath, and walked into my very first meeting.  The topic of that session was exactly what I needed to hear…Don’t let your setbacks become stay backs!!!

I have never been a quitter.  Rather, I typically dedicate myself to seeing things through to the end, even when it’s difficult.  I may not always reach the summit as quickly as I would like, and sometimes my definition of success in an area changes over time, but when I start out to accomplish something, it’s not very often that I give up and walk away. 

For example, twenty-five years ago, I graduated high school and went on to college to pursue a degree in music education.  I completed all but my final year of my music program, but then as they say “life got in the way” and I did not get to finish school at that time, but I never let go of the hope that one day I would graduate.  In 2009, I decided it was time to go back to school to finish what I had started, and in May 2014, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Regent University with my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.  Graduating with a 4.0 GPA, while being a wife and mother, working a full time job in the investment field, and serving as a pastor all at the same time was no easy feat.  Through prayer, determination, support from my amazing family, and commitment, however, I finished…and I finished well.

Now, it’s time for me to apply that same level of concentration and deliberate effort to finishing what I started in my weight loss.  My previous health issues put things on hold for a while, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay in that place!  I joined Weight Watchers on March 14th, and in the first 10 weeks, I have already lost 26 pounds! 

Weight Watchers awards you little charms for various milestones, and at my meeting last week, I received my 25lb. goal charm.  In a way, it reminded me of my first semester back in school…I received a letter telling me that I had been placed on the Dean’s List for academic achievement.  Now, the paper that letter was printed on wasn’t worth much, but it signified something great in my life.  It was an active celebration that acknowledged that I was on track towards reaching my goal.  The same can be said of the little 25lb. charm.  It is just a small trinket, but to me, it serves as a beautiful reminder that I WILL reach my goal, and I am well on my way!

Let me encourage you today to revisit your dreams.  Do you have goals that have been set aside, but in your heart, you long to see them come to pass?  Turn them over to the Lord, and ask Him for guidance, direction, and provision, and then take action and see where He leads you!

Philippians 1:6 “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…”
(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional, a representative of any formal weight loss program or a certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)